No More Smiles: Rex Ryan Breaks Down

This Rex Ryan is done joking around.

This Rex Ryan is done joking around.

The Rex Ryan on display after the New York Jets OT win against the Giants on Saturday was a far cry from the bold and boisterous head coach the media and fans came to know his first two years with the team. After two consecutive losing seasons and this one off to a not so great start, it’s clear he’s starting to crumble.

An ongoing mess at the quarterback position is an obstacle that’s been proving nothing short of impossible to overcome. Within months of accepting the first head coaching position of his career in early 2009, Ryan made a decision that may well cost him his job before the year is out—he drafted USC quarterback Mark Sanchez No. 5 overall in the NFL Draft.

Sanchez was serviceable in his first two seasons with the Jets, reaching the AFC Championship each year. His numbers weren’t exceptional, but it was hard to argue with the results. Ryan remained steadfastly dedicated to his QB through much of the next two years, even as Sanchez became an albatross around his neck—a constant reminder of his own failures.

Although the Jets traded for Tim Tebow early in 2012, ultimately it was much ado about nothing because he didn’t start a single game before being released the following off-season. It wasn’t until WVU’s Geno Smith was drafted No. 39 overall last April that it became clear Ryan (or someone looking over his shoulder) was ready to pull the plug on the Sanchez experiment.

Unfortunately the addition of Smith has yet to pay any dividends for Ryan, and may have actually made things worse. With two weeks to go before the regular season begins, neither quarterback has been able to distinguish himself as anything even close to a passable starter. And tonight’s game was no exception.

Earlier this week it was announced that Smith with be starting against Giants, one of the last opportunities he’d have to with the starting position. He did not impress. After throwing a 22-yard touchdown in the first quarter of the game, he proceeded to have a complete meltdown.

Smith threw three interceptions and, when backed up to his own 1-yard line in the second half, he booked it out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

Enter Sanchez...Exit Sanchez

Enter Sanchez…Exit Sanchez

Ryan had seen enough—that safety was Smith’s last play before he decided to put in Sanchez, who suddenly looked like the clear lesser of two evils. He may end up the starter by default, but that’s only if he’s healthy by Week 1—Sanchez suffered shoulder injury in the meaningless preseason game, leaving him questionable for the immediate future. He’s got an MRI scheduled for Sunday.

At his post-game press conference last night, Ryan was combative when pressed by the local media about when a starter would be named and his decision to put Sanchez in late. He was nothing short of defiant when dealing with reporters who were obviously unsatisfied by his lack of definitive answers.

“I don’t have to answer a question … I’ll answer it the way I said. And from Day 1, I said we will make the announcement on a starting quarterback when we think it’s the appropriate time. Not when you, not when this person, or this person, or this person … now maybe that person … but that’s about it.”

Anything else to say, Rex?

“I can say anything I want—that’s the beauty of this country.”

Okay then!

The Jets may have won the game tonight, but that’s the only bit of good news this team has seen in weeks…or months…maybe even years. At this point it seems pretty safe to say that if things don’t turn around drastically in the next few weeks, Rex Ryan will be out of a job by the end of this season.

Assuming he even lasts that long.

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